Critical success factors (CSFs) are the elements that help companies reach their mission and goals. They allow a brand's team to identify the areas they should focus on and track the progress.

In this article, we'll unveil the importance, types, and examples of critical success factors. We’ll also compare critical success factors and KPIs and uncover how to identify these factors for your company.

Why are critical success factors important?

Critical success factors directly relate to a business strategy and can be defined as systems that help brands reach their goals. You can take all the necessary measures to bring all your efforts to succeed.

Having a detailed plan that covers factors enables you to gather all your company’s capabilities to focus on the key goals. As a result, your employees' tasks will be aligned across different departments to reach your objectives as soon as possible.

The reasons to have your CSFs listed are clear, so we have to explain the difference between critical success factors and KPIs.

Critical Success Factors vs KPIs

Since many business people often use the two terms interchangeably, we need to make the difference clear. This will help you become closer to your key goals and finally reach them.

Critical success factors are vital elements of a company that enable business owners to achieve the goals they set for the future. If project managers list the right factors that influence the achievement of the long-term and short-term goals, they can succeed faster. These factors are more general than KPIs. For example, “increase revenue.”

KPIs are measurements that help assess the success of a company. With key performance indicators, entrepreneurs can evaluate the overall performance of their brands. They can analyze both the overall effectiveness of a company and the progress of specific departments. KPIs are detailed and quantitative. For instance, “increase profits by 20% in the European market within six months”.

The difference seems small yet significant. That’s why you should be familiar with the terms when starting a business. Now it’s time to review the types of critical success factors.

Types of Critical Success Factors

You can encounter different types of CSFs your team should be aware of. We’ve prepared a list of the main types for you to consider.

  • Strategic factors. These factors depend on your company’s competitive strategy. You need to define the way you market your company and product and the position you want to occupy. For instance, you can position yourself as a high-cost producer of quality products that manufactures a limited number of valuable items.
  • Environmental factors. These include factors your company doesn’t have direct control over. However, marketers still need to track them and take action to stand out and keep the leading position within the market. Environmental factors include public policy, competitor actions, the economy, and new technologies.
  • Industry factors. Companies should be ready to do specific tasks to have a competitive advantage in their respective industries. To figure out what to do to achieve goals and remain competitive, your team should watch industry trends. Once you identify the most relevant, you’ll be able to make a list of tasks to do to be closer to your long-term and short-term goals.
  • Temporal factors. Most factors are tied to a company’s goals and terms, yet some situations might require instant attention and solution. That’s why managers should be ready to solve problems effectively. They cover internal changes within a company. Once marketers face challenges, they need to develop critical success factors. For instance, if a brand grows fast and prospers, it might need to enter a new market and present its product to a wider audience.

Now that you know the types, let’s discuss how to identify these factors for your company.

How to identify critical success factors for your business?

If you need to determine factors to increase the chances of success for your company, follow our short guide.

  1. Analyze your mission, vision, and values. First of all, you need to determine your company’s mission and figure out current targets and challenges. You can take your business through a PEST analysis to identify external market factors that impact your brand. Besides, consider conducting a SWOT analysis to discover your strengths and weaknesses, potential opportunities and threats for your business.
  2. Determine main strategic goals. You need to figure out your strategic objectives closely related to your company values and mission. After, you need to outline the ways to reach them. It might require you to perform several actions to achieve your key objectives. Let’s say you want to become an environmentally friendly brand. Once you identify such a goal, you’ll need to determine critical success factors. In this scenario, they might include creating recyclable packaging, investing in renewable energy sources, and reducing carbon emissions.
  3. Identify the essential critical success factors. Once you have your critical success factors, you need to determine those with higher priority. Identify the essential factors to focus on the areas important for your success. Besides, during the analysis, you might find some unnecessary and erase them from your list.
  4. Inform stakeholders. Once you find out what steps you should take, you need to think about which departments can help you attain your CSFs. After you decide on the teams responsible for reaching these objectives, you need to update stakeholders on your critical success factors. Ask for their feedback to get some new ideas and identify challenges that might arise on your path toward success.
  5. Find a way to track and evaluate your progress. One of the most effective ways to assess your progress is to set the KPIs. For example, if you want to reduce negative influence on the environment, you can write down a KPI and make a more detailed statement, “change 100% of packaging to recyclable within five years.” You can also assign a special task to one of your employees or teams to track the progress.

Now that you know how to identify these elements, it’s critical to see some examples to figure out how everything works in real life.

Examples of Critical Success Factors

Business owners who strive to make their businesses prosper need to define critical success factors. Let’s review several examples to have a clear understanding of factors that can help make your business more successful.

CSFs vary based on your end objectives. For instance, if you want to increase conversions by 10% within two months, you might face the necessity to provide a higher quality of service, more effective marketing techniques, make more customers happy, etc. If you want to attain specific goals in terms of sales, you might need to establish stronger relationships with customers through different channels and strategies, improve interactions between departments to align tasks and work towards the achievement of common goals.

You might need to increase the quality of products, conduct more profound research, or reduce production costs to increase the efficiency of your business and attain the necessary objectives. Defining the right critical success factors will pave the way to the completion of your mission.

Congrats, now that you know the peculiarities of critical success factors, you can cooperate with your company’s team to outline factors that will help you reach your deliverables. Hope that our examples gave you a hint on where to start.


  1. This article defines the term and provides readers with types and examples of critical success factors.
  2. In this article, you’ll find ways to identify critical success factors.
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